From the time people find out you are expecting, you will hear the same question regularly: “Have you chosen a name yet?” Selecting a name for your baby might just be one of the hardest decisions you will have to make in the nine months of your pregnancy. Choosing a name to suit a person you have never met is a difficult challenge, and adding to that the pressure to be unique, honor family members, and avoid a name that could result in teasing makes it even harder.
A Name with History
A great place to start your search for the right name is in your own family history. Make a list of the names of your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents as far back as you can go. Include other relatives too, especially those with whom you are particularly close.
Chances are some of the names may be too old-fashioned for modern use, but you might be able to find a more modern version of the same name. Be imaginative as well; a male name doesn’t need to be crossed off the list simply because you are having a girl. Look for a female name that is similar. For example, Clarence could become Clara, Gabriel changed to Gabriella, or Larry to Lara.
Finding the Meaning
A lovely name can quickly lose its appeal when you find out it has a meaning that isn’t quite what you were going for. Luckily, finding the meaning of a name is easy with dozens of books on the market and even more websites available for free.
Looking for a name by starting with the meaning you would like it to convey is a different and helpful way of approaching the task. Think of possible meanings you might like for your baby’s name, and then search for names that fit. One way to approach it is to make a list of the attributes you want your baby to have, like honesty, kindness, and generosity, and search for names with similar meanings. You will find that searching for names by meaning can bring options to your attention that you might not otherwise have considered.
Other Things to Consider
When choosing a name for your child, there are a few important considerations you should keep in mind as you make up a short list of possibilities. The first name should go well with your last name. If you have a long last name with multiple syllables, you may want to consider shorter names for your baby and vice versa for a short last name. Be sure to say the full name out loud to really get a feel for how it rolls off the tongue.
Watch out for rhyming names or overdoing alliteration if you are using multiple middle names. And of course, be aware of the possible ways your chosen name might be twisted; you don’t want a name that will leave your child vulnerable to teasing. You might also want to consider the connotations a name might have; for example, if it is the name of a famous person, do you want your child to be associated with that person?
Finally, while unusual spellings for common names are a popular way to make a name unique, bear in mind that your child will likely spend a good deal of time correcting the spelling!
Whatever name you settle on, remember that in the end, the choice belongs to you and no one else. Don’t let friends or family sway you from a name you really love, or let their opinions bother you if they disagree with your choice. The name you choose is the first gift you will give to your child, so give it from the heart.